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Lecture 5

HPS211H1 Lecture 5: Lecture Notes 02-10-2016

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History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
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HPS211 – 02/10/2016 Readings p. 129 – 164 The Darwinian Revolution - Rejected that creatures were divine creation - Status of the human soul was threatened - Abandoned the concept of a spiritual dimension - Looked like it was trying to destroy traditional values and beliefs and plunge the world into anarchy (creationist p.o.v.) - Some believe it was a projection of the class he belonged to onto nature (Social Darwinism) - There was a sudden transition from creationism to evolutionism, the world converted to natural selection - Not the first to initiate discussion, radical writers were talking about how evolution was founded on a law of progress - Must be evaluated both in term of scientific advantages and its appeal and prejudice inside and outside science Design in the Natural World - Argument for design, arguing that God was an intelligent designer who created the animals - Ray, looked at the adaptation of structure to function, wanted to provide a biological taxonomy, looked for the rational pattern in God’s creation - Linnaeus, modern system on biological taxonomy (binomial nomenclature), looked at is as groups nesting within larger groups - Evolution shaped by the assumption life ascends towards higher forms Forerunners of Darwin? - Some theories in the Enlightenment period do have the element of transformism but they were usually thinking something quite different than what we see as evolution today - Diderot, believed in spontaneous generation (inorganic nature could produce complex living things) - Leclerc, species have flexibility to adapt to surroundings, species making a genus have all descended from one ancestor - Erasmus Darwin, gradual development of life - Lamarck, accepted spontaneous generation, each generation got slightly more complex, there were no gaps marking distinct species (gaps were from missing info), wasn’t just a chain, there was a second process distorting it, inheritance of acquired characteristics (acquired characters have a slight chance of being inherited, like giraffes and the long neck) Interpreting the Fossil Record - Cuvier, geological catastrophes wiped out the population then they migrated from populations of no catastrophes - Thought that complexity conceals a deeper underlying patters - Owen, homology (the same combination of bones can make many animals), someone had to arrange the bones - Agassiz, looked at the development of the human embryo (the stages of looking like a fish, a reptile and a human), suggests the human is the end goal - Sainte-Hillaire, Chambers, those who proposed radical thoughts, preparing the world for Darwin - Chambers, laws built into nature by its creator, progressive saltations (leaps) Development of Darwin’s Theories - Uniformitarian, the outcome of slow changes of driven by natural causes - Evidence is South America that species competed with one another - Things changed to adapt themselves to their environment (the finches being on different islands) - There was no automatic ladder of progress - Looked at Malthus’ struggle for existence, those best adapted to change would be more likely to survive and the next generation would be bred from better adapted parents The Reception of Darwin’s Theory - Huxley, - Spencer, progress was the product of acts by individuals that concerned their own wellbeing - Important new fossils have been discovered that seemed to fit into evolutionists’ predictions - Much of the science of this time was dismissed as overenthusiastic support - Jenkin, asked questions about inheritance, questions that the genetics known couldn’t answer at the time (traits would be inherited less and less ½ then a ¼ and so on) - Wallace, one of the very few that were still defending Darwin in the 1880’s Human Origins - In the 1860’s there was still no plausible connection between apes and humans - Philosophers began to create evolutionary philosophy hoping to trace the changes in brains to describe the change from apes to humans - Darwin, human conscience was an expression of social instincts that our ancestors had due to evolution Resurgence of Darwinism - Many thought that large mutations caused enough variation for a new species to be born - Weisman, Pearson, ideas pertaining to hereditary being the only source of character - De Vries, mutation theory, (sudden appearance of new traits( - Morgan, established the true nature of mutations, every now and again the codes change and its altered to produce a different character, mutations keep a steady stream of genetic variation, the ultimate source of random variation as postulated by Darwin - Early Mendelians saw themselves as opposition of Darwinism - Fisher, Haldane, Wright, Mayr all contributed to the new Darwinism - Modern or evolutionary synthesis is born Conclusions - The first Darwin evolution was a movement towards an interpretation of an already existing worldview - Took a second revolution associated with Mendelian genetics to destroy developmental evolution that went against Darwin’s proposals Lecture Notes The Pre-evolutionary Worldview - 16 and 17 century was mainly mechanical philosophy - Problems began to emerge in the biblical narrative & people began to explore non- biblical, natural histories The Argument from Design - John Ray: though nature is a machine, the living world is so complex that it only could come to be by a benevolent creator - Still a sound argument today for some Classification and Generation - Classification: 16 and 17 century, people began classifying living things, but relies on a static animal species - Natural philosophers required a means to soft life because it was very complicated - Generation within mechanistic philosophy, where does life come from if everything is just composed of matter and motion? The Problem of Fossils - Seemed to be the petrified remains of once living organisms, why did God create a bunch of animals and let them die? - Nature progressed and everything had a purpose - Ray argued that these species still existed, but we just don’t encounter them in the world we know Evolution in the Enlightenment - Many saw the Church as a boundary to scientific thought - Typified to classify the known world Linnaeus - Ecology could be understood in terms of balance - Developed binomial nomenclature as a classification system - Based on reproductive organs - Classified primates and humans together, one of the first people to do this Who Cares About Classification - Classification was thought to be a chain of being where humans were thought to be the top, under the spiritual - The branched classification was putting animals at the same evolutionary level as humans - Not considered to be an evolutionary tree, just a way of classifying life The First Transmutationists - Act of changing one form of life into another - Spontaneous generation only applied to the simplest forms of live - Complex developed through a process of progressively more complex - Life could change and adapt to the environment and therefore classifications would need to be fluid Erasmus Darwin - God’s work will constantly improve itself - Parents efforts could be passed to children - This could direct the development of species Lamarck - Develope
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